Nicholas Bett altered the way Kenyan athletics is viewed after winning a gold medal out of the ordinary long distance races at the World Athletics Championships in Beijing, China, this week. The win in a sprint event shook up the world of athletics, suprising not only the watching nation but those in competition.
So much was he a rank outsider that the international press failed to capture him clearing a hurdle. Sweet it was that the win sunk the entire ‘Bird’s Nest’ Stadium in Beijing, China to a pin drop silence as he came to terms with the feat and his newly acquired status.
At home, the win stirred and triggered outpouring emotions as his family, neighbours and relatives in the deep sleepy Simat Village, Uasin Gishu County.
Led by his father Joseph and mother Esther Boit, a former 110m hurdler and volleyball player, led athletic lovers from the region to congratulate his second born son for showing the world that Kenya has athletes who can clear hurdles in the recent Kenya.
The two-time Africa bronze medallist competed alongside his elder brother Aaron Koech with the latter failing to advance to the final run.
The siblings initially played volleyball Paul Boit and Cheptil high schools in Eldoret and Kapsabet, representing East Africa secondary schools sports Association three consecutive times.
His father who watched the showpiece together with Bett and Koech’s wives Gladys and Fridah, applauded the son for following his advice and following his dream in an event that he nurtured as a young man.
“He started running in the 110m hurdles at tender age while still in primary school. He was also a good volleyballer,” said Boit. Boit says when his children were young, he weaned volleyball to them, pointing at place where he erected a volleyball court.
“I could play volleyball with my sons when they were young, I had to play hard and mature volleyball , spiking to make them harden, which I discovered they had talent and I could put sticks as hurdles and compete with them,” says Boit.
Two-time bronze medallist Bett joined Kapkong High School and studied for one year before he moved joined Cheptil High school in form two. However , Boit, the first vice chairperson of Uasin Gishu Athletic Kenya branch advised his sons to shift to 110m and 400m hurdles from volleyball when he saw the prospects and potential in the running track.
“I knew about their talents in volleyball but I had to advise them to take up running and leave volleyball because I knew running would guide them to employment and not volleyball.
Though volleyball was not bad for them but sometimes in volleyball needs teamwork unlike running where it is an individual’s duty.
In volleyball, one player may be weak, hence failing the team,” said Boit. He has praise for Bett’s school principal Maiyo whom he says moulded the two athletes to be what they are today.